The Journal of African Economies has just published its November issue, which is a special issue on impact evaluation.
Two features are evident from the collection of papers presented here. First, as illustrated by the diversity of topics covered in this volume, evaluation methods can be applied to a broad range of policy questions. Such questions range from microeconomic and localized policies, such as in health and education, to policies with potential for general equilibrium and market-wide effects, such as migration and entrepreneurship.
Second, while modern impact evaluation studies share a concern for the identification of causal policy parameters, they employ a broad range of empirical methods. Beyond their differences in application, the collection of papers in this issue demonstrates that, even with a focus on causal identification of policy impacts, a broad toolkit can be convincingly and flexibly employed. These include both experimental and quasi-experimental methods, as well as studies designed to yield internally valid results but also to shed light on the external validity of their findings. As this volume illustrates, methodological rigor does not imply that the methods of causal impact evaluation must drive the questions being asked.
The emphasis is mine, as it displays an open-mindedness that is refreshing.
The special issue includes articles on:
- Free primary education and gender differences, by Lucas and Mbiti,
- Education, child labor, and school lunches, by Kazianga et al.,
- Social transfer programs and agricultural productivity, by Hoddinott et al.,
- Mobile phones and migration, by Muto, and
- Business training and entrepreneurship, by Berge et al.